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The London Borough of Southwark ( ) is a London borough in south east Londonmarker, Englandmarker. It is directly south of the River Thames and the City of Londonmarker, and forms part of Inner London.


Southwarkmarker got its name in the 9th century but was first settled in the Roman period. The London Borough of Southwark was formed in 1965 from the former area of the Metropolitan Borough of Southwarkmarker, the Metropolitan Borough of Camberwellmarker, and the Metropolitan Borough of Bermondseymarker.


The borough borders the City of Londonmarker and the London Borough of Tower Hamletsmarker to the north, the London Borough of Lambethmarker to the west and the London Borough of Lewishammarker to the east. To the south is the London Borough of Bromleymarker and the London Borough of Croydonmarker.


At the 2001 census Southwark had a population of 244,866. Southwark is ethnically 63% white, 16% black African and 8% black Caribbean. 31% of householders are owner–occupiers.


The Tower Bridgemarker, the Millennium Bridge, and the London Bridgemarker are here, as well as the planned Shard London Bridgemarker, which will be London's tallest building when completed. Borough Marketmarker near London Bridge is probably London's most famous food market.

Religious institutions

Southwark has many notable places of worship, Anglican, Roman Catholic and independent non-conformist. These include Charles Spurgeon's Metropolitan Tabernaclemarker, Southwark Cathedralmarker (Church of England), St George's Cathedral (Roman Catholic), and St Mary's Cathedral (Greek Orthodox. London's Norwegian Church and Finnish Church and the Swedish Seamen's Church are all in Rotherhithemarker. St George the Martyr is the oldest church in Greater London dedicated to England's Patron Saint, the redundant St Thomas Church is now the Old Operating Theatre Museum and Herb Garretmarker.

Literature and theatres

Southwark has many literary associations, Charles Dickens set several of his novels in the old borough where he lived as a young man. The site of The Tabard innmarker (featured in Chaucer's Canterbury Tales), the White Hart inn and the George Innmarker which survives.

The old theatre district of Southwark has the remains of the Rose Theatremarker and the rebuilt Globe Theatremarker and its exhibition on the Banksidemarker contribution to the birth of classical theatre. In 2007 the Unicorn Children's Theatre was opened on Tooley Street and the Union Theatremarker moved to Bermondsey Street.

Museums and galleries

The borough is the location of international standard museums and galleries; the Imperial War Museummarker and its outpost HMS Belfastmarker moored at the Poolmarker, Dulwich Picture Gallerymarker the oldest public gallery in Britain, and one of the most modern, the Tate Modernmarker. The Bankside Gallery is the headquarters of the Royal Society of Watercolourists and Engravers. Specialist and local collections are represented at the London Fire Brigade Museum, the Old Operating Theatre Museum and Herb Garretmarker, The Clinkmarker and the London Bridge Experience, the Golden Hinde replica and the site of the medieval Winchester Palacemarker is a scheduled ancient monument.

Some of the old industrial and wharfside heritage remains at the now defunct Surrey Commercial Docksmarker including Greenland Dockmarker, where residential buildings were erected; such as Baltic Quaymarker. Near Tower Bridgemarker old warehouses have been converted at to new uses at Butler's Wharfmarker and Hay's Wharfmarker. Similarly, the Oxo Towermarker now hosts restaurants shops and housing.

Southwark is the home to the Greater London Authority at City Hallmarker.

Peckham Librarymarker, designed by Will Alsop won the Stirling Prize for modern architecture.

The Livesey Children's Museum was a free children's museum given to the people of Southwark by the great industrialist Sir George Livesey. It was closed by Southwark council in 2008.


Financial Times has its head office in Southwark.

Educational establishments

London South Bank Universitymarker (LSBU) at its principal Elephant and Castlemarker site has over 23,000 students and 1,700 staff. The Chancellor is the newscaster Sir Trevor McDonald.

The University of the Arts Londonmarker has two of its colleges in the borough - at Elephant and Castle is the London College of Communication and on Peckham Road is the Camberwell College of Artsmarker. The principal university teaching hospital of King's College, Londonmarker is at the Guy's Hospitalmarker, founded 1725, merging the teaching activities of the Guy's, St Thomas' and King's College Hospitals here. St Thomas' was founded in the mid-12th Century in the borough and parts of it remain at St Thomas Street. The Salvation Army maintains the William Booth Memorial Training College at Denmark Hill.

Community schools

Many state schools are operated under the umbrella of the borough council [14067] as Local Education Authority for the area.

Community secondary schools include:

Independent state schools

A particularly large proportion of schools operate outside the LEA, as Foundation schools or City Academies, including:

Independent public schools

Dulwichmarker in the southern part of the borough has a number of public schools:

Courts and Judiciary

The old Southwark borough had been the location of many Courts and Prisons of Royal Prerogative, the Marshalsea and King’s Bench, as well as the manorial and borough courts the Surrey County magistrates had both sessions and a prison there. The Inner London Sessions Housemarker on Newington Causeway descends from these. The Southwark Coroner's Court in Tennis Street dates back to the charter of 1550. In 1964 Southwark Crown Court was opened at English Grounds near London Bridge for local requirements, giving the borough two Crown Courts. Since 1994 the Crown Court for the west London Boroughs, previously based at Knightsbridgemarker, was rehoused in Southwark as Blackfriars Crown Court. When the decision was taken to separate the judiciary and legislature, in 2007, by transforming the House of Lords Judicial Committee of Law Lords into the Supreme Court of the United Kingdom it was given the Middlesex Guildhall in Parliament Square as its residence. This meant that the crown court for Westminstermarker's judges sitting there were transferred to the Southwark Crown Court, hence the senior judge holds the honorific title of the Recorder of Westminster. Apart from these four crown courts (ILCC Newington, Southwark, Wesminster, Blackfriars) Southwark’s local magistrates sit at two courts in the borough, Tower Bridge and Camberwell Green Magistrates Courts.

Few boroughs can boast a single major Court, Southwark has seven jurisdictions.

Civic affairs


The Mayor of Southwark for 2009-2010 is Cllr Jeff Hook (Rotherhithe ward), who was elected on 20 May 2009. He replaces Cllr Eliza Mann (Riverside ward) who served from 2008-2009.

Cllr Hook is thought to be the first gay man to be elected Mayor of Southwark. His civil partner will serve as Mayor's Consort.


The council is run by a Leader and Cabinet Executive, chaired by council leader Cllr Nick Stanton. Following the election in 2006 the Executive is a coalition, with Liberal Democrat councillors holding 8 seats on the Executive and Conservative councillors holding 2. The leader of the opposition Labour group is Cllr Peter John.

Coat of arms

The two supporters on the coat of arms are an Elizabethan player dressed to play Hamlet to the left, indicating the theatrical heritage of the area, and the youth on the right side is the Esquire from Chaucer's Canterbury Tales. The coat of arms is an amalgam of elements of the three constituent Metropolitan Boroughs arms. The chequered band represents the three boroughs together. The cross was a common feature of Southwark and Camberwell. The well in the centre of the shield is a 'canting' reference to Camberwell and the cinquefoils represent the Dulwich area of Camberwell, while the ship on the top left refers to the maritime history of Bermondsey and was part of the Rotherhithe insignia. The rose on the right is from the Southwark arms where it represented St Saviour's parish, ie the Cathedral.


Southwark is twinned with Langenhagenmarker in Germanymarker, Clichy in Francemarker, and Cambridgemarker in the United Statesmarker.


Southwark London Borough Council

A Liberal Democrat/Conservative coalition has run Southwark Council since 2002.

Summary of council election results:

Overall control Labour Lib Dem Conservative Others
2006 No overall control 28 (29)** 28 (27)** 6 1 (Green)
2002 No overall control 28 30 5 -
1998 Labour/No overall control 33(31)* 27 4 0(2)*
1994 Labour - - - -
1990 Labour - - - -
1986 Labour - - - -
1982 Labour - - - -
1978 Labour - - - -
1974 Labour - - - -
1971 Labour - - - -
1968 Labour - - - -
1964 Labour - - - -

(*)Labour won 33 seats in 1998, but 2 members subsequently resigned the whip, leaving no overall control.

(**)Cllr Danny McCarthy (Cathedrals ward) defected from the Libdems to the Labour Party after the 2006 election. A Liberal Democrat/Conservative coalition runs the council (the Conservatives hold 2/10 executive positions, including deputy leader).

Westminster parliament

The borough is covered by three parliamentary constituencies:


Bridges and tunnels

"A" Roads

  • Roads leading to bridges across the Thames meet at St. Georges Circus

  • The A2 runs along Old Kent Roadmarker through the north of the borough and is London's main artery from the centre out to Kentmarker.

  • The A202marker runs along Peckham High Street and passes the town hall.

  • The boundary with Bromleymarker at Crystal Palace Parade is part of the A212marker.

Tube stations

Railway stations

Riverbus piers

Operated by Thames Clipper


Parks and open spaces


Areas of Southwark

Postcode areas

SE1 (part), SE4marker (part), SE5marker (part), SE11marker (part), SE15marker (part), SE16 (part), SE17marker (all), SE19 (part), SE21 (part), SE22marker (all), SE24marker (part)

Notable residents (past and present)


External links

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